Today is my last day at Brooklyn Public Library. If I had stayed here until November, I would have been working here seven years. Needless to stay, being a BPL staff member has been a major part of my adult life. If you ever want a frank discussion about what it’s like working for a massive urban librarian system with sporadic funding, you know where to find me. But, in lieu of that, here’s a look back at my years here. Remember when I was thin and had kinda dumb hair?
I was delighted to get hired by BPL, even though the only available branch was an hour and forty-five minutes each way from my home. Midwood was a busy branch in a Conservative Orthodox neighborhood. There were lots of kids, but I was the only children’s librarian. It was hard work. I got into making displays and decorations here (the branch was kind of ugly):
In less than six months, due to some pretty terrible circumstances, I was transferred, leaving Midwood without a children’s librarian for quite a while:
Greenpoint was tiny in size, but bursting to the brim with kids. Most programs were standing room only, especially storytime:
I loved making displays, still, though resources were few and I mostly used donated and recycled supplies:
Our best display ever, though, was an all-staff group effort and featured a major topic of workplace conversation:
The kids loved arts and crafts here, even though some of my supplies were pretty odd:
I sort of knew that NYC libraries were in budget trouble, but this became more apparent to me once I started at Greenpoint. I, and hundreds of my coworkers, were in serious danger of being laid off. Libraries were slated to be shuttered to the public. I got the kids involved in writing to the Mayor. Their efforts featured various levels of politeness:
I got very much involved in library advocacy, especially with the group Urban Librarians Unite. Fighting for my job was all- encompassing and quite stressful. One of our most successful events was the 24 Hour Read In, which I did for several years in a row and never want to do again. Dang, those were exhausting:
We made these Pink Slip pins, and wore them every day at work to increase patron awareness about the budget cuts:
Layoff fear became a fact of everyday life. You’d get terrified and paranoid, but then, before you knew it, the budget dance would be over and your job would be safe for another six months or so.
Reluctantly, I left Greenpoint library for BPL’s Central Youth Wing. I was ready to work with a team of youth services librarians instead of being the lone children’s specialist, but I really missed working with a small crew of kids I knew very well. Central has tons of resources (monetary and otherwise) and I did not miss dealing with patrons during tax season, but this place is huge and I never got to connect to a community the same way I did in Greenpoint and Midwood.
Here, my displays got way more political:
I got to meet some cool authors here at Central:
And of course, I did a lot of programming:
And made lots of kids cry. Just kidding, but sometimes:
I wish I had some grand speech about leaving this system. I have too many feelings and thoughts to process, honestly. All I can say is that I’m ready for the next big thing. I’m excited to work hard and make big stuff happen for my new library. Onward.
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid